First stop: Jodhpur
You don’t get the best nights sleep ever on a sleeper train, especially if you’re nearly 6ft tall and your feet stick out into the corridor from your bunk. Woke up in protective pretzel position and had to spend quite a while de-kinking, but now here we are in Jodhpur, the blue city.
Fun fact: The buildings are painted blue because this is a desert city, water is sometimes scarce and needs to be brought in from external sources and stored. The colour blue repels bugs eg mosquitoes more than any other colour… simple. And v pretty to look at.
First stop is the fort. Like something cooked up in the mind of Tolkien, it stands hewn out of a cliff face overlooking the city, ancient, ornate and powerful.
After lunch we walk though the bustling markets of hawkers and honkers.
On a side note: You can feel like a walking ATM to these people, and I understand why, but it is starting to get irritating… probably because I’m such an easy mark… How much is culturally different sales styles, how much tourist opportunism… and does it matter? I end up with some gorgeous throws I didn’t know I wanted, for more money than I wanted to spend here (but obviously far less than you’d pay in London) with the knowledge that they are forever assets (for the forever house that I have yet to buy) that I’ll cherish. But nevertheless, the acquiring of them left a funny taste in my mouth.
Udaipur, the city on the lakes…
This is a town of palaces and royalty. The city palace is home to the prince, who is, according to the flags, in residence at the moment, and there is a summer palace on the lake that is available for hire for that extra special wow factor wedding…
It’s a beautiful city, easy to wander around, full of winding streets with tempting little shops and cafes calling out… Tasha has become addicted to buying harem pants.
Our hotel, Sandovar, is right on the water and has an excellent roof terrace. We drop our bags, breathe in the view, then go to the local museum to see their evening entertainment… traditional Rajasthani dance: fire bowls, puppets, colourful swirling skirts and clinking glittery bangles.
On our way we bump into Sheila Jenkins! Meeting for drinks the following eve… we make v good use of the roof terrace and have a great catchup.
Unfortunately we are back on the road the next day, sporting some impressive hangovers, and head to a little town called Jojawar, rather off the beaten track, but hiding the most amazing Manor House turned hotel. We can’t really believe our luck! Sunny nooks, swing seats, terraces, ornate swimming pool… the staff scatter flower petals down over the archway as you walk into the courtyard… that kind of place.
There is a scenic train ride through the mountains on offer so Mary Kai and I head out while everyone else lounges by the pool… uncultured swine. The train is an old local line and the track is one of the oldest in the area. The best bit is standing in the open doorway as we clatter over high bridges… I take loads of photos and film on the GoPro but spend quite a bit of time thinking that it would be pretty embarrassing (not to mention painful) to fall out of a moving train trying to take a bloody selfie… Still, the view of the valley is worth the risk…
I think I’ll leave it there for now…